form and foliage

Year round garden interest with minimal care


Sara Malone


Sara has been gardening since childhood. Throughout a business career that included a move to the West coast in 1980, she continued to garden, adopting and shedding many gardening styles along the way.  Her compost pile is littered with the remains of her fascinations with flowering bulbs, sweet peas, vines, the entire Cercis genus, Rhododendron, Pacific coast iris, lavender, ornamental grasses and most flowering perennials.  In 1997 she moved to her present home, in Sonoma County, CA, where she has developed a distinctive style of gardening that emphasizes the use of shrubs and trees rather than herbaceous perennials.  Her garden has been the site of numerous tours and workshops to benefit local non-profits, workshops and classes.  She is the editor of the American Conifer Society’s website and an editor and contributor to the Society’s Conifer Quarterly. She has been a Sonoma County Master Gardener since 2006 and is a former editor of their website. She has served as a judge for the San Francisco Botanical Garden at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Shows and volunteered at several Bay Area botanical gardens, as well as teaching various garden and botanical groups about conifers.  Her garden has been featured in Fine GardeningGarden Design and Pacific Horticulture magazines and the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Her undergraduate degree is in botanical science. She is a member of the Hortisexuals and the International Dendrology Society.

Janice LeCocq

Janice LeCocq discovered her passion for photography in 2007 when, using a Canon Rebel XT “purchased” with a credit card rewards program, she traveled to Japan and found it to be one of the most photogenic places on earth.  Even someone who shot “full auto” and had no clue what aperture or ISO meant could find inspiration and get some good images.  Encouraged by the results, Jan learned the basics, soaking up everything she could from the online photography education company, as well as web sites, books and videos from the top photographers in the world. Now, six years, two more cameras and a dozen lenses later, she’s shooting on a regular basis.

Like Sara, Jan has always enjoyed writing, but for too long her efforts were limited to business plans, investor presentations and industry analyses. She has recently combined her photography with journalism to publish in an eclectic variety of local newspapers and magazines and professional journals for veterinarians and farriers.  Her images are prominently featured in two web sites featuring equine veterinary practices.

Jan has known Sara for over 30 years and shares her passion for design, texture and color.  After hours in Sara’s garden, the proposition to photograph and share Sara’s vision was irresistible.  Jan’s photos of Sara’s garden have appeared in Fine GardeningGarden Design and Pacific Horticulture magazines, Dave’s Garden and the American Conifer Society’s website and Conifer Quarterly.

29 thoughts on “Bios

  1. Congratulations, Sara!

    From the start I always felt your garden and its vision was begging to be shared.
    I’m very happy to see it finally getting the ‘exposure’ it deserves!

    I know the trees and garden at Circle Oak will only continue to ‘enhance and enrich’ as each year goes by.

    All the best ~ Diane

  2. I was so happy to see the article on your garden in Garden Design Magazine.
    Greening the garden for winter interest caught my interest over the past two years after gardening in one spot in the State of Maryland for over 30 years and getting tired of periennals and drab winters.

    It has taken me nearly 30 years to get one mostly periennal area of my garden to look balanced with a minimum of work throughout the growing season; and that only occured after I decided to mix in shrubs and evergreens.

    I too have composted short seasoned and problematic periennals in lue of evergreens.
    Always loving the look of Italian Cypress and not being able to grow it on the east coast,
    I recently discovered Juniper Degroots Spire which is a good sustitute for our Zone 7.

    I look forward to exchanging ideas with others on the East Coast for winter greening and more mature relationships.


    • Inez,
      How nice to hear from someone in a different zone. We are trying to make this blog as relevant as possible to gardeners who really have to deal with winter. That Thuja ‘Degroots Spire’ looks great – we’ll remember that as a good columnar tree for Zone 7. We’re in the process of adding plant lists and seasonal photos to the blog, so stay tuned!
      Thanks for writing.
      Sara and Jan

  3. Dear Form and Foliage Sara and Jan,

    thank you for all this beauty and especially for helping others think it through!

    I’m a certified aesthetic pruner based in Marin; let me know if you’d ever like to collaborate on pruning demos in your gardens or on your blog!

  4. I saw your write-up in Garden Design magazine. I’m curious about the plant pictured in the lower left of the four smaller pictures featured there. It is a close-up, so hard to get a sense of scale. Is it Arctostaphylos? I didn’t know it could get such lovely purplish fruit. I’ve only seen it with red fruit. And the leaves are so leathery, it almost looks like rhododendron.

    Nice blog too. I am very interested in evergreens as a year-round garden.


    • Lura, thanks for you comments! The plant in the Garden Design article (Jan/Feb issue) is not Arctostaphylos, but another California native: Rhamnus californica. That particular shot is of R.californica ‘Eve Case’. The entire species is commonly known as coffee berry, and ‘Eve Case’ has the biggest, showiest fruit. There are several other named varieties, my favorite is ‘Mound San Bruno’, which has slightly smaller leaves and doesn’t get as big as ‘Eve Case’. They are both great for year-round interest and can be pruned gently to shape them. Their flowers, while completely insignificant to us, attract more pollinators (both honey bees and native pollinators) than almost anything else in the garden! Sara

  5. Hi Sara and Jan:
    Just found you…and your gorgeous garden. Would you be interested in showing it off as a benefit for San Francisco Botanical Garden? Please email me… and LOVE that fountain of succulents, truly a marvel…

  6. Sara and Jan–I love the concept here and consider it a gift that you’re so willing to share it with others. I too have always had a love of gardens since childhood though mine now are on a much smaller scale than the palette you present. I look forward to visiting this site again to see more of your inspiration.

    • Michael, thank you for your kind comment. We hope to post ideas that translate to other gardens, big and small. Don’t hesitate to let us know if an idea is particularly useful or difficult; the true test of a concept is whether it has application beyond one situation.
      Sara and Jan

  7. Hello,
    Would it be okay to use your Phormium Tenax “Golden Ray” photo ( for a local nonprofit plant sale website? Sale proceeds go to a local school. We would gladly cite you or your blog!

    • Yes, we’d be delighted to have you use it! Please credit Janice LeCocq Photography with the photo and if you don’t mind including a link to our blog, that would be great!
      Sara and Jan

  8. I’m awarding you the Irresistibly Sweet Blogger Award! Check out my blog to see what it’s all about. I enjoy reading your informative and beautiful blog, thanks for all your work!

    • Elaine, You are too kind! And we love your post. We are not quite up to speed on how to incorporate your wishes into our blog – we are neophytes at this and our grasp of the software is not what it should be. Can we take a raincheck and circle back to you? Thanks for your work, too! Sara and Jan

      Sara Malone 909 Mustang Court Petaluma CA 94954 Follow us on Facebook

  9. Ladies, it was a delight to read your article in the Spring 2012 edition of the Conifer Quarterly. Lovely photos and an inspirational story which I hope will draw more folks into the world of conifers!

    • Thank you! We are doing our best to spread the word. We do have a few converts under our belts already – those who have read the blog, then seen the garden (generally folks we already know) and then gone home to points East and pulled out hostas and hydrangeas and planted conifers! We have some tours planned for summer and fall and we’re planning to have copies of the Quarterly to hand out, so who knows? We’ll point people to your blog, as well. Jan and Sara

      Sara Malone 909 Mustang Court Petaluma CA 94954 Follow us on Facebook

  10. I’m going to be in your neck of the woods in mid-late July (Calistoga, SF and ???) with family but despite having the family along I’d love to take in a nice garden or two. Do you have any that are open to the public that you feel are “can’t miss”? Our plans aren’t set and as I’m the ones that makes the plans, I’d say wine country, out to the coast and down to SF are all fair game.

  11. The two of you are an AWESOME combo!

  12. Hi Guys! I’ve been trying to figure out what the name of this conifer in the background of one of your photos is. (The tall white/green/blue-ish one)

    Can you let me know?

    • Alex that is Cupressus glabra ‘Blue Ice’ (sometimes styled Cupressus arizonica var. glabra ‘Blue Ice’. That photo was taken in the shortest days of winter with very washed out sunlight and the tree appears quite gray. In harsher summer sun it is very blue. There is another similar cultivar called ‘Blue Pyramid’ that has very similar needles and color, just a more pyramidal form. Hope that helps!

      Jan and Sara

  13. I was so inspired by your presentation on conifers at SF Flower and Garden Show yesterday. Came home and looked at my trees with a new eye!

  14. I work for the Arnold Arboretum Children’s Department and saw your color wheel from the July 1, 2012 post. I would like permission to use it in a worksheet for teachers to use with their students (or parents and families) as part of a Color in Nature Hunt activity. This worksheet would be available from our website. Please contact me so we can further discuss this request. Thanks!

  15. gorgeous photos, lots to paint and draw

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